Our bodies were not meant to be toxic dumps. Yet improper digestion, high levels of stress and pollutants such as chemicals in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the foods we eat, continuously create toxins in the body. If not flushed out on a regular basis, this toxic buildup can eventually manifest as disorders. And as we grow older, the body’s built-in mechanisms for eliminating impurities tend to be less efficient, thus stressing the need for periodic internal cleansing therapy.
THREE KINDS OF TOXINS
Ayurveda describes three kinds of toxins. The most common is “ama”, which is the sticky waste-product of poor digestion. Ama builds up in the digestive tract when your digestion is either weak or overloaded with the wrong foods.
If ama is allowed to build up over time, eventually it can leave the digestive tract and start circulating through the body. Once it settles in a specific area, the ama begins to mix with the subdoshas and or the dhatus (body tissues). When it mixes with these parts of the physiology, it becomes “amavisha” — a more reactive and toxic type of ama. This is the kind of ama that underlies many chronic disorders and diseases.
Ama can also block the channels of circulation in the body, preventing the unrestricted flow of nutrients to the cells and organs. Or it can clog the channels that carry waste from the cells and tissues, resulting in a toxic build-up.
The third type of toxin is the category of environmental toxins — or “garavisha”. Environmental toxins come from outside the body and include pesticides and chemical fertilizers that make their way into our foods or get carried by the wind, as well as preservative, additives and genetically engineered foods. These toxins have been associated with hormone disruption, immune system suppression, reproductive disorders, several types of cancer and other disorders such as allergies.
SPRING IS THE IDEAL TIME FOR CLEANSING
The reason many people feel the signs of ama build-up in spring more than at other time of year is because that is when toxins that have built up in the body over the winter start to display their symptoms. If you don’t follow the proper seasonal diet and routine during the first two months of winter (November and December), the toxins you accumulate that time get stuck or “frozen” in the walls of the channels because of the cold weather. By the time spring comes and the temperatures rise, the “frozen” ama starts to melt. As it flows the channels of the body become flooded with toxins. Because of this yearly phenomena, Spring is the best time to detoxify. By necessity the body goes into a mode of eliminating toxins at this time of the year, so it is the perfect time to support the body in that role.
If you experience a heavy feeling in your body, if your joints are stiff, if your tongue is coated when you wake up in the morning, if you have an unpleasant body odor, if you feel dull and sleepy after eating, and/or if your mind is foggy, you may have a build-up of ama. Diarrhea, constipation, joint pain, sadness, dullness, lowered immunity, and frequent bouts of colds and flu are all health problems that can be caused by ama.
Amavisha and garavisha types of toxins are best handled by an Ayurvedic expert and through the classic Ayurveda purification and detoxification treatments, Panchakarma. There are, however, are a number of things you can do on an ongoing basis to prevent ama from building up in your body. –
TIPS FOR REDUCING AMA
The most important thing is to eat your main meal at noon, when the sun is strongest and the digestive fire reflects that strength. If you eat too much at night, or eat heavy foods such as meat or cheese then, the food will sit in your stomach and create ama. Eat light at night and your food will be easily digested before you go to sleep.
Don’t snack between meals unless you are actually hungry, Wait until the food is digested before eating a meal. If your digestion is already occupied with digesting and you add new food on top of that, the result is ama, the sour, undigested waste product of undigested food.
Going to sleep before 10 p.m. is essential, because then during the Pitta time of night (10 p.m.-2 a.m.) your digestion has a chance to cleanse and rejuvenate itself. If you stay up, you’ll probably feel hungry about midnight and will want to eat, which will tax the digestion and create ama.
Waking up before 6 a.m. is recommended, because if you sleep late into the Kapha time of the morning (6-10 a.m.), the channels of your body will become clogged with ama and you’ll feel dull and tired.
Daily exercise that is suitable for your body type will stimulate digestion and help cleanse the body of toxins.
It’s also important to manage your stress. Everyone can benefit from spending time each day practicing the Transcendental Meditation program to remove mental, emotional and physical stress.
Spring is the ideal time to visit an Ayurvedic expert to determine if you are dealing with ama, and, if so, what type of ama it is. An Ayurvedic expert can then recommend an individualized approach to clearing your system of impurities. For more information on consultations and on the detoxifying programs of Panchakarma, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website.